Category Archive: Leak Detection

Role of Leak Testing in Automotive Component Assembly

Leak testing is a key quality control measure that ensures parts and assemblies meet their operational requirements. In the automotive sector, it verifies the safety and reliability of components and their production processes. Automotive component performance is critical, and vehicle manufacturers must choose suitable leak-testing methods to avoid safety issues, product recalls, warranty claims, and customer complaints.

What Is Leak Testing?

Leak testing is the quality control process that checks for liquid or gas leaks in manufactured parts. It’s a non-destructive testing method, as the tests won’t damage or alter the object under inspection. Leak testing encompasses various detection methods, giving you multiple options to choose from depending on the specific component or assembly you’re evaluating.

Also, the testing process ensures more than just product quality. By checking for leaks during production, you can also identify and address any problems within the manufacturing process itself that might be leading to quality issues. The testing process helps improve production efficiency and reliability, leads to quality end products, and reduces waste and rework.

Why Leak Testing Is Critical for Automotive Component Manufacturing and Assembly

The automotive sector is among the primary industries that rely on leak testing. Vehicles are made up of complex systems containing different types of fluids, some under pressure, that are very close to components that can be damaged if even a very small leak is present. EVs in particular require strict testing requirements as they have components like batteries and motors that can pose a danger to passengers if damaged.

Leaks within a single part affect the performance and safety of vehicles. At best, leaking parts will significantly impact the performance of your vehicle, reduce fuel efficiency, and increase emissions. At worst, a leaky component can prove disastrous, resulting in complete system shutdown, battery fires, and hazardous situations for drivers.

Differences Between EV and Internal Combustion Engine Leak Testing

EV designs don’t include a number of the components that vehicles with internal combustion engines have, like fuel lines and injection systems. In EVs, your focus for leak detection is on break fluids, water tanks, and AC fluids as such leaks will lead to damage in EV batteries.

Manufacturers will sometimes test their components to three times their maximum rated pressure to ensure nothing has the possibility to leak under even the most demanding operating conditions. Using tested, high-quality parts helps prevent short circuits as well as car fires and explosions, as EVs are extremely sensitive to leaks compared to internal combustion engine systems.

What Auto Components Require Leak Testing?

To ensure leak-tight parts and system or assembly connections, automakers employ leak testing for the following:

  • Chassis and Powertrains: This automotive component category encompasses anything from transmission systems and engine blocks to wheels and drive axles. It also covers powertrain oil and water circuits, as well as electrical components like vehicle lights and electronic control components.
  • Safety Components: Parts like airbag ignitors, brake lines, and fluid reservoirs all require leak testing to ensure optimal safety in a vehicle’s performance.
  • Cooling Devices: Heat exchangers, radiators, AC hoses, condensers, and compressors should all undergo leak testing to ensure proper functionality.
  • Batteries: A lithium-ion battery is an example of an EV component that benefits from leak testing.
  • Fuel Systems: Systems like injection systems and fuel vapor management systems should receive leak testing, as should components like fuel lines, filters, pumps, and tanks.
  • Completed Assemblies: In addition to the above systems and components, some final circuits that require leak testing include engine water and e-battery cooling circuits.

Other components that benefit from leak testing include but are not limited to water tanks, internal combustion motor parts, shock absorbers, headlights, and other automotive parts exposed to rain and humidity.

What Leak Test Methods Are Common in Automotive Component Assembly?

Different testing techniques are available to accommodate the wide array of components that require testing. They determine if a component has a leak and if its seal will hold at a predetermined pressure level. Some common leak test methods include:

  • Helium Leak Test: This highly accurate test pressurizes a component with helium, which acts as the tracer gas, and then a sniffer probe scans for leaks. It’s effective at finding even small leakages.
  • Pressure Decay Leak Detection: In the open air, pressure decay testing seals a component’s openings prior to pressurizing it inside. After stabilizing, you then monitor the internal pressure to detect decay.
  • Vacuum Decay Leak Detection: Alternatively, a vacuum decay test monitors for pressure buildup occurring after lowering pressure levels and introducing a test medium.
  • Flow Test: By bringing the air within the tested volume to constant pressure, you can identify that there’s a leak in a part should you need to add additional air to maintain pressure.
  • Ultrasonic Testing: This inspection technique utilizes sound waves to indicate that a leak exists as well as pinpoint its location

Automated Leak Testing Solutions From AMD

Leaks, no matter how small, can significantly affect the reliability, effectiveness, and safety of an automotive component. At Advanced Manufacturing Development (AMD), we offer a range of automotive testing solutions. Based on your specific application, our team will assist you in selecting the optimal automated testing station and equipment as well as the right testing technique to assure optimal performance and quality in your products. Contact our team for more information, or request a quote today.

How to Choose the Right Leak Testing Equipment for Your Application

Leak testing processes ensure the high-quality, consistent performance of products that need to provide a reliable seal at a set pressure level. However, there are many different types of leak tests, such as helium leak tests, mass extraction tests, and more. At AMD, we provide automation and manufacturing solutions for a wide variety of components and industries. Keep reading to learn more about the value of leak testing for production cycles and to identify the type of leak testing that best fits your company’s needs.

Types of Leak Testing Technology

There are eight major types of leak testing that your facility can use to ensure the integrity of products. They are:

Air Leak Testing With a Micro-Flow Sensor at Pressure Conditions

This leak test measures and replenishes lost air from products under test conditions. The test uses an integrated microsensor that can replace emitted or leaked air within a part or assembly so the test product stays under consistent pressure conditions. This helps measure the rate of air leakage.

Air Leak Testing With Mass Extraction (Vacuum Conditions)

Rather than holding the test product under standard environmental conditions, this test holds the product under vacuum conditions to identify and measure any leaks. The vacuum conditions make the test more sensitive and informative. It also uses a Micro-Flow sensor.

Helium Leak Detection

This test relies on a tracer gas that a field mass spectrometer can easily measure. A popular tracer gas is helium, as spectrometer units set to 4 amu can detect ionized helium to measure the severity of any leaks.

Ultrasonic Testing

Rather than measuring trace gases or direct air leaks, ultrasonic testing processes involve identifying any sound waves that indicate the presence of a leak. Leak sources generate ultrasonic signals that technology can use to uncover the location of the leak.

Thermal Imaging

Leaks cause temperature fluctuations when the body of the product, the internal fluid, and the surrounding environment have different temperatures. As a result, manufacturers can use thermal imaging via infrared cameras to detect the presence and location of any potential leaks in a test product.

Tracer Gas Detection

Tracer gas detection is a broader category of testing that includes helium leak detection. In these processes, helium, hydrogen, or another tracer gas, is used to find potential leaks. The gas moves throughout the test product and concentrates near the leak. Testers can then use technology to sense those concentrations and uncover leaks. This type of testing process is often used in plumbing, refrigeration, and HVAC systems.

Dye Penetrant Testing

For welds or joints that may have a leak, testers can apply a dye-penetrant substance to the area. Any leaks will draw the dye into the gap or defect, allowing testers to inspect the area and see the displaced dye under specific lights.

Acoustic Emission Testing

Similar to ultrasonic testing, acoustic emission testing uses sound waves to uncover the presence of potential leaks. Leaks can output acoustic signals and stress waves, which technology can then pinpoint.

Understanding Your Application

Leak testing is a vital process in many different industries. As a result, each industry or specific product may be subject to different testing requirements. These industrial regulations may guide the type of testing required, the quality control standards which must be met, and the maximum allowable leakage. Some industry-specific considerations include:

  • Aerospace and Automotive: Some parts that often undergo leak testing include air conditioning systems, brakes, power train systems, heat exchangers, welded systems, and machined castings.
  • Medical: Medical devices and implants, single-use disposal technologies like catheters, and laboratory equipment often undergo leak testing.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Packages like vials must also be tested for leaks, as any potential leak is just as likely to allow microbial contaminants in as it is to allow pharmaceutical goods to leak out. Packages undergo helium leak detection tests to measure them against maximum allowable leak levels (MALLs).
  • Consumer Electronics and Utilities: These products or systems are tested to ensure minimal risk of water contamination.

Factors to Consider

Because different products and applications require different types of tests, it’s important to select the right leak detection process for your company’s unique production or service needs. Consider the following:

  • Leak test conditions: Different products must have or cannot have different pressurized leak conditions, either outside or inside the product.
  • Environmental factors: The test environment will affect the viability of different tests.
  • Cost: More complex tests are often more expensive than simple tests that can be done under diverse environmental conditions. Consider both the cost of the materials and/or service and the cost of preparing for the test.
  • Throughput and cycle times: The speed of each test matters, especially if every part must be individually tested.

Learn More With AMD

At AMD, we’re here to help guide your leak detection test equipment selection to ensure you have the right tools and resources. Contact us today to learn more about our different leak detection test options or request a quote to start your order.

The Ins and Outs of Helium Leak Testing Equipment

Leak testing is critical to manufacturing quality assurance practices and functionality testing for a broad range of pressurized equipment. While there are many leak detection methods, helium vacuum tests offer superior sensitivity and accuracy for identifying common leaks and micro-leaks.

Why Use Helium Leak Testing Equipment?

Helium leak testing equipment offers a means to detect leaks and verify leak-tightness in vacuum conditions. Technicians often employ helium as a test gas because this small and light molecule provides a wide detection range in vacuum tests between 102 and 1013 Pa · m3/s. Helium leak testing and detection equipment offer precise quantitative and repeatable results with fast cycle times. The inert, non-flammable nature of helium also contributes to its popularity in leak testing.

Manual sniffing or spraying offers one of the simplest ways to find leaks, though this process can be time-consuming. Automatic leak detection solutions facilitate a much higher-detection speed with minimal operator input. Helium leak detectors obtain extra data that traditional leak detection methods like bubble testing or pressure drop will not.

Ultimately, helium leak testing offers the best chance of successfully detecting every leak, improving the efficacy of quality assurance and functionality testing processes.